Friday, September 19, 2014
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Kobe Bryant

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Zach LaVine
Image courtesy of the Pac-12 Conference

NBA draft prospect Zach LaVine spoke with Laker Nation’s Johnny Navarrette in an exclusive interview to discuss the draft process experience, comparisons to Russell Westbrook, and also shared his thoughts about growing up a Lakers fan, Kobe Bryant, and the current state of basketball in Los Angeles. Be sure to watch LaVine’s pre-draft workout below, presented by PureSweat and Laker Nation’s own Sam Limon.

JN: Since leaving UCLA, how has the entire draft process experience been for you? Competing against the best young talent in the world, meeting with teams and media? 

ZL: “It’s been a lot of fun, just enjoying the process.  You only get to go through it once or twice so it is definitely something that is enjoyable. I’m going in it full-hearted, very confident, and just ride through this process.”

JN: There are some who feel you will be a shooting guard at the next level and some who feel you will be a point guard, what position do you see yourself playing in the NBA?

ZL: “A lot of people haven’t seen me play point guard yet so they can’t really play judgment on to it until they see me in person.  I feel like I have been proving in these workouts that I can play and compete at the point guard position.  I definitely feel comfortable with the ball in my hands but I am also not scared to shoot or score the ball as well because I feel that comes easy to me. I’m a player first so wherever the coach needs me to play at I’ll do it but I definitely feel comfortable with the ball in my hand.”

JN: Do you feel that you are underrated in this draft?

ZL: “I wouldn’t say underrated.  I’m going up and competing against dudes everyday, holding my own, and I feel like my stock keeps rising because I’ve been doing very well against everybody else, stacking up against the competition.  I’ve been doubted a couple times so I guess you can say I’m underrated but I really don’t let outside voices get to me or anything like that.  I know what I can do, I’m a very confident person, and I put in the hard work so I don’t let any of those distractions really mess with me.”

JN: What areas of your game do you feel you need to improve in?

ZL: “I’m still 19-years old so my body is still maturing. I feel like I’ve added strength, I feel that will come naturally.  I want to get my body stronger, add some weight like I said before and just learn a little bit more about off-ball defense, I feel like I am a pretty good on-ball defender.   The grind and the process of the NBA lifestyle as well, you know you mess with 35-year old men so becoming more mature on and off the court as well.”

JN: How big has working with Drew Hanlen (@DrewHanlen) been to you?

ZL: “It’s been really good.  I’ve been working a lot on pick-and-roll reads, sharpening up my ball handling skills, and just becoming more consistent with my jump shot, getting all these different finishes and getting in condition so it has been a lot of fun.”

JN: What is one thing that he has taught you that changed who you are as a player?

ZL: “He’s a really cool dude and one of my close friends now. He’s been teaching me little tricks of the trade, dealing with NBA players before.  I feel like I’m going to be working out with him in the future as well.”

JN: The constant comparison when it comes to you is that of Russell Westbrook, another guard out of UCLA with elite athleticism.  Do you think those comparisons are fair and who is the NBA player you model your game after the most?

ZL: “I see the Russell Westbrook comparisons a lot. I feel like we do don’t play in the same way, he’s a little bit more reckless than I am.  He has a stronger body but athletically I feel we are on the same page.  He pulls up on the break a lot, I like to pull up and I feel like I can get to the lane very easy and create.  I feel like I play like Steph Curry as well with his dribbling and shooting ability off the dribble and one of my good friends Jamal Crawford, same body type, loose handles but still not that conventional point guard but has a lot of different moves to get a shot off on anybody. So I feel I have a little bit of all three of those players.”

JN:  With Jamal Crawford being a close friend, what has he done for you throughout this process?

ZL: “Jamal is a really cool dude and you can talk to him about anything.  He’s from the town like me so all the players from Seattle are definitely close to each other.  He gives me little tricks of the trade, been around the block a couple of times so it’s definitely something you look forward to talking to him about whenever you’re struggling with something and need to know something.”

JN: How was your experience at UCLA? Some questioned your decision to leave after one season, but what did you learn in college that made you feel that you were prepared to make the jump to the NBA?

ZL: “I felt it was my decision and felt it was the right time in my career to take that step.  I’m a confident person; I’m not scared of challenges and feel that my game translates to the NBA pretty well.  I learned life lessons, I had to deal with adversity, play at a level where you could see yourself at and just getting another year of experience.  It was my freshman year, I enjoyed it, living and dying with the guys every game so it was definitely a great experience for me.”

JN: Growing up a Lakers fan, was it surreal to workout for the Lakers in the pre-draft workout? How was the experience?

ZL: “It was a lot of fun. Growing up being a Laker fan, watching everything they do has been really fun for me. Then actually getting to workout for them, getting to put on that jersey is really cool and I took it all in, but at the same time I knew I had a job to do, try the best I could, and just impress.”

JN: You set a Laker pre-draft workout record with a 46-inch vertical, are you surprised by the reaction it’s getting?

ZL: “I mean I could see why, you don’t see that everyday (laughs).  I had I think a 45-inch vertical before at UCLA, 42 at the draft combine, so it depends some days on how you’re feeling, I was little more pumped up that day.  I feel like I did good overall. On the three quarter sprint I ran a 2.95 or something like that and the fastest at the combine was a 3.1, so I don’t know if that is a record for the Lakers or not, but I feel like I did pretty well in all of them.”

JN: Aaron Gordon said in an interview that he would be “tied at the hip” with Kobe Bryant if drafted by the Lakers, what would it mean to you to get drafted by the franchise and what would you hope to learn playing under Kobe?

ZL: “He’s been my favorite player growing up. Not just because of his flashy game, but I love his demeanor. He’s a killer, he puts in the work. I pat myself on always being one of the hardest workers on the team so you can learn everything from him.  He’s one of the greatest of all-time so it’s definitely something I can look forward to picking his brain from.”

JN: His work ethic and competitiveness is considered to be second to none, how do you think your work ethic and attitude would mesh with Kobe, someone who demands greatness from his teammates?

ZL: “He can see someone who he can see as his younger self. I feel like I have a very high competitive nature as well, someone that works extremely hard and is very focused.  Hopefully he would have a good reaction to it, I know at the end of the day he’s still going out there trying to kill you, it’s Kobe Bryant.”

JN: Being a fan, you know the expectations of the team and players are high in Los Angeles when it comes to the Lakers.  How would you handle those expectations?

ZL: “There are expectations but you can only handle what you can handle.  You go out there and try to do the best you can, work hard, try to win, and do the best to your abilities. Knowing me, if I got dressed up to be a Laker, I would be extremely happy.  I feel like my game fits LA. I’m excited to play out there, I feel like I can get the crowd off their feet.  It’s the Lakers, it’s show time, and I feel like my game is little bit of show time. I definitely feel like I can reach those expectations.”

JN: The Lakers and Clippers have somewhat flip flopped roles in Los Angeles in terms of success. What are your feelings on the current state of LA basketball?

ZL: “Lakers are one of the best franchises of all-time, so they are going to get back where they should be in the standings and in the rankings.  Every team goes through its ups and downs, it just happens.  The Clippers are a great team as well, they had their downs and now they are at the top of the pedestal so the Lakers are trying to get back up there.”

JN: Finally, what is your message to Laker Nation about why you are the right choice for the Lakers?

ZL: “I’m a player you can bank on, who is always going to be in the gym working hard, working on their game.  Someone who fits the play-style, fits the face of LA that I feel that I am an exciting player and I’ll do anything to win.  I’m competitive, I’m a team player, and I just feel like my game fits LA.”

Find out where Zach LaVine is drafted on Thursday June 26, 2014, live on ESPN.  Be sure to follow Zach on Twitter at @ZachLaVine as well as Laker Nation at @LakerNation for the latest news and updates surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers.

Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of June 15-21, over their 66-year history.

June 16, 1975

The Bucks traded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers after the three-time MVP requested to be traded away from Milwaukee. Abdul-Jabbar went on to win five NBA championships, three MVP awards, and became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer while wearing the purple and gold. His number 33 was eventually retired by both the Bucks and Lakers after his playing days came to an end in 1989.

June 16, 1999

The Lakers hired Phil Jackson to become their head coach after his wildly successful run as the head coach of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. In his first three years as the Lakers’ head coach, Jackson led the team to three-straight NBA championships. During his second coaching stint with Los Angeles, Jackson led the Lakers to consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010. In 12 seasons at the Lakers’ helm, Jackson won five NBA championships and became the NBA’s career leader in playoff victories and playoff winning percentage.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

June 17, 2010

The Lakers defeated their rivals, the Boston Celtics, 83-79 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Despite an ugly game on both sides, an unlikely hero emerged for Los Angeles, as Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, stepped up and dropped 20 points for the Lakers. Although Kobe Bryant struggled uncharacteristically, going 6-24 from the field, he finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds in the win. The Lakers’ Game 7 victory avenged their loss to Boston in the 2008 Finals and secured their second consecutive title.

June 21, 1988

“Big Game” James Worthy picked the perfect time to live up to his nickname, as he recorded the first triple-double of his career with 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists, to lift the Lakers over the Pistons 108-105, in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Worthy’s clutch performance allowed the Lakers to become the first NBA team to defend its championship since the 1969 Boston Celtics. With their victory in the title-clinching game, Los Angeles also became the first team in NBA history to win three straight playoff series in seven games, having done so consecutively against Utah, Dallas, and Detroit.

Getty Images

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of June 8-14, over their 66-year history.

June 8, 2001

After losing Game 1 of the NBA Finals to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers bounced back with a 98-89 victory in Game 2, behind 31 points from Kobe Bryant and 28 points and 20 rebounds from Shaquille O’Neal. The Lakers wouldn’t lose another game on their way to a second straight NBA championship.

June 9, 1987

Magic Johnson hit a heroic sky hook shot over Boston’s McHale and Parish to give the Lakers a 107-106 victory in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Johnson led the Lakers with 29 points, while James Worthy added 21 to give Los Angeles a commanding three games to one series lead. In what would be the last Finals match-up between Johnson and Larry Bird, the Lakers won the series and the championship over the Celtics in six games.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

June 9, 2000

After Kobe Bryant injured his ankle in the second quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the Pacers played the percentages and resorted to fouling Shaquille O’Neal a record 39 times, in hopes that he would miss a substantial number of free throws. The “hack-a-Shaq” attempt failed, as O’Neal converted on 18 of his attempts, including 9 of 16 in the fourth quarter. He finished with 40 points and 24 rebounds, as he put the Lakers on his back and lifted the team to 111-104 victory over Indiana.

June 14, 2000

Kobe Bryant tipped in the deciding bucket with six seconds remaining in Game 4 of the NBA Finals to give the Lakers a 120-118 overtime victory against the Indiana Pacers. Despite fouling out, Shaquille O’Neal led all scorers with 36 points and 21 rebounds. The Lakers eventually won the title over Indiana in six games.

June 14, 2009

Kobe Bryant answered the critics and won his first NBA championship without Shaq, after leading the Lakers to the title in five games against the Orlando Magic. En route to his first Finals MVP award and fourth ring, Bryant scored 30 points in the decisive game.

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Getty Images

Everyone’s favorite point guard Smush Parker is at it again, this time in an interview on ESPN’s show Highly Questionable where he ‘reveals’ that Kobe Bryant did not allow Parker to talk to him during practice.

“He told me one day at practice – I tried to talk to him outside of basketball, about football. And he looked at me in practice and was dead serious and said, ‘You can’t talk to me. You need more accolades under your belt before you come talk to me.”

In the video below (starts at 2:58), Parker goes on to discuss the lack of relationship the two had as well as his thoughts on being considered a ‘bad’ player with the Lakers.

Someone should let Parker know that it has been seven years since he last played with the Lakers.

Let it go.

 

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Getty Images

Despite the success of the Clippers over the past few seasons, there will always be players who value playing for the Lakers.   In this instance, the player is…

Andrew Bynum.

TMZ recently caught up with the former center and when asked if he could play in Los Angeles where he still resides, Bynum responded, “That’d be great, come back home.”

The reporter then asked, “Clippers or Lakes?” (yes the reporter said Lakes), which Bynum without hesitation said the Lakers.

Lastly, when asked if he could return to old form, Bynum responds, “I don’t think so.”

VIDEO: Andrew Bynum Speaks To TMZ

Since last playing for the Lakers in 2012, Bynum has played in 52 games over two years.  He missed the entire 2013 season due to injury after being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Dwight Howard deal.

In 2014, he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers but was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team and was then released before making his way to the Indiana Pacers where he played in two games before being shut down with yet another injury.

Bynum enjoyed success with the Lakers, averaging 11.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in seven seasons. His best season came in 2011-2012 when he put up 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds, earning him an all-star appearance.

The biggest issue pertaining to Bynum was his ability to stay healthy.  Constant injuries derailed his career and while he played 82 games in 2006-2007, he was never able to play more than 65 games in a full-season.

It does bring up the interesting scenario in which he could return to Los Angeles for cheap.  With the Lakers roster situation being as is, they will look to fill out the roster and while an injury risk, Bynum could be a player the team adds on a very reasonable deal. While his attitude has also been an issue, it should be noted that Kobe Bryant started to trust Bynum more in games and also praised the center’s personality:

“Yea, yea. He’s got kind of this f— it attitude, you know what I mean,” Kobe said. “Which is great, it’s one of the things that makes him a great player. It won’t bother him at all…. Andrew is a big boy, he can handle it better than most.”

Would you like to see Bynum return to the Lakers in 2014-2015?

 

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When Kobe Bryant signed his two-year, $48.5 million extension back in November, the amount left fans and basketball analysts wondering if it were the smartest thing to do financially for a team looking to reload its roster in the coming seasons.

As it turns out, coaches from other sports also had an opinion on the situation as Jurgen Klinsmann, coach of the United States men’s soccer team, told The New York Times Magazine back in December his feelings about how athletes in America are catered to and brought up the five-time NBA Champion and future hall of fame shooting guard.

“This always happens in America,” Klinsmann said in the interview, which was released on Wednesday. “Kobe Bryant, for example — why does he get a two-year contract extension for $50 million? Because of what he is going to do in the next two years for the Lakers? Of course not. Of course not. He gets it because of what he has done before. It makes no sense. Why do you pay for what has already happened?”

The comments from Klinsmann was not meant to bash Kobe but instead was just a recent example used in an attempt to get his point across in the interview.  Five months after the interview, Klinsmann left Landon Donovan, who was considered the face of U.S. men’s soccer, off the World Cup roster which seems to stay consistent with his comments about making decisions based off the player’s past and not the present.

 

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Lionel Hollins
Image: Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images

In case you missed it, the Los Angeles Lakers have been working meticulously in their head coaching search after learning their draft position. As of Last week ,they interviewed two coaches who have previous good history with the team; Mike Dunleavy Sr. and Byron Scott. On Tuesday they are set to interview former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins.

The first candidate the Lakers interviewed was Mike Dunleavy Sr. last Sunday. He has previous history with the team as he was the Lakers head coach for the seasons of 1990 through 1992 (with an overall record, including playoffs, of 124-73), succeeding then coach Pat Riley. In 1991 the Dunleavy led team reached the NBA Finals beating the Portland Trailblazers, but ultimately losing to the Chicago Bulls.

Getty Images

Dunleavy also knows what is at stake for the Lakers as his most recent coaching position in the league was with the LA Clippers. Due to that, Dunleavy understands the dynamic of being overshadowed by the other LA team and trying to find ways to claim the primer position. The Clippers teams he coached then had very similar seasons to last seasons Lakers team yet it has been four seasons since he coached last.

Scott, who interviewed with the team last Tuesday per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, believes that he is the “perfect guy” for this job.

“I don’t feel I’m a very arrogant guy, but I feel like I am the perfect guy for this job,” Scott told the “Max & Marcellus” show on ESPNLA 710 Radio on Thursday. “I got a great relationship with Kobe. I know the team, know the roster. I watched them all season long and I just think it would be a great fit.”

“Obviously, if I get the job, the first conversation I have is with Kobe [Bryant],” said Scott, who spent last season as an analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, the Lakers’ television partner. “We have to talk about the future of the Los Angeles Lakers. We have to also talk about which type of direction we’ll be taking and also talk about the type of game that he’s going to be playing because he’s going to have to change his game a little bit, and I think he knows that.

“We got to sit down and talk about the minutes and things like that. We just got to come to an agreement. But he knows me. I’m an old-school type guy. I’m an old-school type guy and I want him to understand that and I think he does understand that…But I think the biggest thing is, No. 1, I respect the hell out of Kobe and I think he respects me. That’s the first hurdle we got to get past, and then other things, we’ll be able to solve all those little issues.”

Scott continued the conversation by speaking on what his defensive approach would be with the team. Last season’s Lakers team finished 29th in opponents points per game, they undoubtedly need to strengthen the defensive side of the ball before next season begins. Scott, a valuable player for three Lakers championship teams on the offensive end but better known for his defense, has an idea of what needs to be done to fix the team’s defensive woes.

Byron Scott
Image: Chris Chambers | Getty Images

“That’s what I was taught when I came to the Lakers, that defense wins championships,” said Scott, who was coached by Pat Riley in L.A. “I think Kobe knows that. I think Pau [Gasol] knows that, because they won championships with that formula. And I think that’s the first thing we got to get better at, the defensive part of basketball. Then we got to get better at the rebounding. So, it’s something that we would do on a day-to-day basis. You got to work on that every day, and it has to be a team’s identity and a staple.”

He concluded with discussing how the Lakers don’t need to think that rebuilding will be a three or four year process.  As we all know, the Lakers have a certain allure to them that can fast track any rebuilding phase.

“Obviously there are a lot of holes to fill, but unlike a lot of people who think this is a three-, four-year process, I really don’t think so,” Scott said. “Again, this is one of the best organizations in basketball. Mitch has done a fantastic job, and I think Jim really has a good idea of where they want to go and what direction they want to head in. So I don’t think it’s going to take three or four years. I think it might take a couple of years at the most to get right back where they need to be.”

The last, and most, recent news of on the organization’s coaching search broke yesterday. Yahoo Sports! Adrian Wojnarowaski tweeted that the Lakers will meet with former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins on Tuesday.

Hollins, an NBA champion with the Trailblazers in 1977, All-Star in 1978, All Defensive First Team in 1978 and Second in 1979, is known league wide for his team’s stifling defense. While head coach of the Grizzlies, Hollins led his teams to franchise high winning percentage, playoff home court advantage for the first time in team history, and a franchise record 56 wins. Hollins could become the best option out of the three candidates as his previous success can translate with the Lakers right away since majority of the team will have played against a former team of his.

Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of May 25-31, over their 66-year history.

May 26, 2002

Robert Horry picked up a loose ball and swished a three-pointer with 0.6 seconds remaining in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to give the Lakers a 100-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Behind Horry’s heroic shot and 27 points from Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles rallied back from a 24-point deficit to win the game. The Lakers eventually won the series in seven games over the upstart Kings and advanced to the NBA Finals, where they swept the New Jersey Nets to clinch their third consecutive NBA title.

May 27, 2010

Ron Artest redeemed himself after shooting a needless three-pointer instead of eating the clock when he put back Kobe Bryant’s airball at the buzzer to give the Lakers a 103-101 victory over the Suns in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. Behind Artest’s game-winner, as well as 30 points and 11 rebounds from Kobe Bryant, the Lakers took a three games to two series advantage. Los Angeles went on to defeat the Suns in six games and advance to the NBA Finals, where they defeated the Celtics in seven games to capture their second consecutive NBA championship.

Getty Images
Getty Images

May 28, 1989

The Lakers completed a four-game sweep of the Phoenix Suns with a 122-117 victory in the Western Conference Finals behind 35 points from Byron Scott. This was the third consecutive series sweep for Los Angeles and their 11th straight win in the 1989 playoffs. This would be their last win of the season, however, as the Lakers went on to be swept by the Pistons in the NBA Finals.

May 30, 1985

The Lakers bounced back after a crushing 148-114 loss to Boston in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and defeated the Celtics 109-102 in Game 2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 30 points and collected 17 rebounds in the win. Los Angeles won the series in six games and became the first-ever visiting team to celebrate an NBA title in the Boston Garden.

Getty Images

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of May 18-24, over their 66-year history.

May 19, 1987

Magic Johnson won the 1986-87 NBA Most Valuable Player award following a campaign in which he averaged 23.9 points per game, while dishing out a league-leading 12.2 assists per game. Johnson became the NBA’s first guard to be named MVP in 23 years.

May 19, 2009

Kobe Bryant scored 40 points to lead the Lakers to a come-from-behind 105-103 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals over the Denver Nuggets. Despite trailing by seven points late in the fourth quarter, Bryant notched six free throws in the final 30 seconds of the game to fuel Los Angeles’ comeback. Pau Gasol added 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, including two free throws to tie the game at 99.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

May 21, 2008

Kobe Bryant hit an eventual game-winning 10-foot jump shot with 23.9 seconds remaining in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against San Antonio to lift the Lakers over the Spurs 89-85. Bryant scored 25 points in the second half, en route to a 27-point performance at the STAPLES Center. He led Los Angeles’ second half comeback, as they rallied from a 20-point deficit to win. The Lakers eventually won the series in five games and advanced to the NBA Finals.

May 23, 1987

The Lakers defeated the Seattle SuperSonics 122-121 in a thrilling Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. The killer tandem of James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 39 and 28 points, respectively. The Lakers went on to sweep the series and advance to the NBA Finals, where they eventually defeated the Boston Celtics in six games.

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Photo by: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America

Lakers’ star player Pau Gasol may not return next season, then again maybe he will. At this point it is all contingent upon Kobe Bryant and the oncoming changes within the Lakers organization. Gasol has a blog in Spanish that he posts to quite often. Previously, LA Daily News writer Mark Medina translated one of Gasol’s latest posts.

“Re-signing for the Lakers is a possibility, but I’m not sure whether to say it’s a remote one. If there’s anything or anyone who could make me stay it’s Kobe Bryant. I’d stay for him, but there’d have to be significant changes. I’ve said it many times: I want to be in a team that has a solid chance to win another tournament and where I can be an important factor in the game….

“I’ve never concealed the fact that (Lakers coach Mike) D’Antoni’s style doesn’t suit my game. Everybody knows this. I don’t know if my decision will be swayed by whether Mike stays or leaves. Obviously, the coach is a very important factor for any team.”

Gasol spoke out about his frustrations with former coach Mike D’Antoni’s system before and certainly has no gripes with discussing his future plans. Yet this is the first time that he’s spoken publicly about Bryant’s affiliation with his future plans. Since then, Bryant has responded to Gasol by telling him how much he wants the big man to return. While this latest response hasn’t been public, ESPN’s Chris Broussard on Mike and Mike in the morning has reported that they have been in communication.

Another reason why Gasol may stay is due to general manager Mitch Kupchak wanting to retain Gasol at the NBA’s trading deadline. First reported by Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times, Kupchak and part owner and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, were not in agreement on what to do with Gasol.

“As the team tries to retool its roster, Jim continues to work closely with Kupchak, who sounds out ideas with Buss before they arrive at a decision. Buss and Kupchak were torn on what to do with veteran Pau Gasol as the NBA trade deadline approached in February and the team lagged in the standings.”

Buss was fine with trading him, Kupchak wasn’t so sure. In the end, the Lakers were never offered more than a second-round draft pick for the aging star, a pittance in their mind. And they didn’t want to seem like they were dumping Gasol’s $19.3-million salary for nothing.

“Mitch wins a lot more of these battles than people imagine,” said an agent who asked not to be identified because he deals with the Lakers. “They respect his caution.”

If anyone knows what can still be successful within this league it is Mitch Kupchak. Yes the Lakers this past season were not great, but considering how the past two years in LA have gone nobody would have expected a swift turnaround. They have done the best they could with what they had. At the least, last season displayed which players could be retained moving forward and who the organization will move on without.

Basketball may have transitioned to a guard oriented game but the big men can be the difference between being a good team and a great one. Not many big men in today’s game have a skillset similar to Gasol’s. Bryant is smart in recognizing this as Gasol, when utilized correctly, can still be a primer big man. Building a team around a core of Bryant, Gasol, and a third star would do well in the league and could compete for a title with complementing pieces. The next couple of months will be instrumental in the Lakers restructuring themselves, bringing back Gasol would be a great benefit as he has become an integral part of their identity and a player that can make a difference.

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of April 27-May 3, over their 66-year history.

April 29, 1970

Jerry West knocked down a legendary 63-foot buzzer-beater to send Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals to overtime against the New York Knicks. Although the Knicks would eventually win the game and NBA title, this moment remains one of the best in Lakers’ NBA Finals history.

April 29, 1990

Pat Riley recorded his 100th career playoff victory as a head coach, with a 104-100 Laker-win over the Houston Rockets. With the win, Riley broke Red Auerbach’s previous record of 99. Riley won four NBA championships as the head coach of the Lakers between 1981 and 1990.

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

April 30, 2006

Kobe Bryant hit a game-tying runner with seven-tenths of a second left in regulation, and then a 17-foot jump shot as time expired in overtime, to give the Lakers a 99-98 win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 4 of the first-round of the Western Conference playoffs. This victory gave the Lakers a 3-1 advantage in the series, which they eventually lost in seven games. Bryant finished with 24 points in his heroic performance.

May 1, 1970

The Lakers defeated the Knicks in Game 4 of the NBA Finals 121-115, after the highest scoring overtime in NBA playoff history. Los Angeles outscored New York 22-16 in the extra period, and Jerry West led the way for the Lakers with 37 points in the game. The Lakers eventually lost the best-of-seven-series to the Knicks in seven games.

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After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of April 20-26, over their 66-year history.

April 23, 1950

The Lakers won back-to-back NBA Championships for the first time in league history. They bested the Syracuse Nationals in six games in the 1950 NBA Finals.

April 23, 1969

Jerry West scored 53 points to lift the Lakers passed the Celtics in Game 1 of the 1969 NBA Finals. West’s 53 points are the second most in NBA Finals history by a guard, second only to Michael Jordan’s 55 points against the Suns in Game 4 of the 1993 Finals. Los Angeles ultimately fell to Boston in the 1969 Finals in seven games.

Vernon Biever/Getty Images
Vernon Biever/Getty Images

April 23, 1989

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played the final game of his NBA career, as the Lakers defeated the Seattle SuperSonics, 121-117. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with the NBA record for points and games played with 38,387 and 1,560, respectively.

April 25, 1965

The Lakers defeated the Baltimore Bullets in six games in the 1965 Western Division Finals, as Jerry West averaged 46.3 points per game in the series. West recorded the highest scoring average for a playoff series in NBA history, after scoring at least 40 points in each of the six games played. The Lakers eventually lost to the Celtics in five games in the NBA Finals.

April 25, 2004

Kobe Bryant converted an eventual game-winning three-point play with a layup and a made-free throw with 40 seconds remaining in overtime of Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round against the Houston Rockets. Bryant scored six of his 18 points in overtime, while 40-year-old Karl Malone led the way for the Lakers with 30 points and 13 rebounds. The win gave the Lakers a three games to one series lead. They eventually won the series in five games, and advanced to the NBA Finals, before falling to the Pistons.

 

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After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of April 13-19, over their 66-year history.

April 13, 1949

George Mikan led the Lakers to their first-ever NBA Championship, as they defeated the Syracuse Nationals in six games to claim the title.

April 14, 1962

Elgin Baylor set an NBA Finals record with 61 points when the Lakers defeated the Celtics 126-121 in Game 5 at the Boston Garden. Baylor recorded 11 straight 30-point plus scoring performances for Los Angeles in the playoffs, setting an NBA record. Despite Baylor’s heroic efforts, the Lakers eventually fell to the Celtics in seven games.

Bob Flora/Bettmann/CORBIS
Bob Flora/Bettmann/CORBIS

April 14, 1976

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won his fourth NBA MVP award following a season in which he averaged 27.7 points per game. Abdul-Jabbar led the NBA in rebounds per game with 16.9 and blocks per game with 4.1. He finished his illustrious NBA career with six total MVP awards, which is the most by any player in NBA history.

April 14, 2004

Kobe Bryant hit a 3-pointer buzzer-beater in double overtime to give the Lakers a 105-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on the final day of the regular season. More importantly, the win clinched the Pacific Division title for the Lakers, and gave them the second seed in the Western Conference in the playoffs. Bryant, who finished with 37 points and eight rebounds, also hit a game-tying 3-pointer at the end of the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.

April 15, 1991

Magic Johnson became the NBA’s all-time assists leader after dishing out 19 assists in a 112-106 Lakers’ win over the Dallas Mavericks at the Great Western Forum. He surpassed Oscar Robertson with 9,898 assists to claim the top spot. Johnson finished his career with 10,141 assists, which currently ranks fifth on the NBA all-time list.

April 17, 1966

Jerry West led the Lakers to a 133-129 come-from-behind victory against the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the 1966 NBA Finals. West scored 41 points, as Los Angeles erased a 34-20 deficit at the end of the first quarter, which is the largest first quarter deficit ever overcome in the NBA Finals. The Celtics eventually won the series in seven games.

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